Field Station 1: Sediment, Settlement, Sentiment: The Machinic River

Minnesota / Wisconsin

© Andrea Carlson

© Andrea Carlson

Between the source regions of the Mississippi River on Lake Itasca and the “Driftless” between Minnesota and Wisconsin lie both its “natural” and “anthropocene” origins. Here, a small creek becomes a torrent, the Dakota and Ojibwa centered their social and spiritual lives, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has directed the river’s flow for almost two centuries. Twenty-nine locks were built and a three-meter-deep channel was dug to transport agricultural and industrial products. These interventions were and are considered evidence of human domination over nature. Field Station 1 resists this approach and views such interventions as open-ended experiments under uncertain conditions.

Just recently, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers initiated a public process to decide the future of the oldest dams on the Mississippi River in the Twin Cities area (Minneapolis-Saint Paul). The possibility of dismantling the dams is already meeting with great public interest, which also reflects the importance of the Mississippi River in the collective world and self-image. Field Station 1 considers the river a space of experimentation and speculation. In discussions, installations and walks, it asks who is allowed to experiment with the river, what role social justice and self-determination play in these experiments, how global climate change influences local decisions and how the river links the landscapes upstream and downstream in complex ways.

More about the work of Field Station 1